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Running out of Hurricane Names 712

fm6 writes "LiveScience is reporting that the 21 names reserved for tropical storms and hurricanes in Atlantic Basic are almost used up. If there are more than 21 storms, they'll start using the Greek alphabet. The most storms ever recorded was 21 in 1933, before they started giving them official names. The connection between this record-breaking storm year and global warming remains controversial."
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Running out of Hurricane Names

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  • by PoderOmega ( 677170 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:12PM (#13605736)
    If we have been only accurately tracking climate for 100 years, and the Earth has been around for hundereds of millions, why are we assuming that global warming is something that humans are doing??
  • Controversial? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:14PM (#13605761)
    Only for the global warming fetishists, apparently. National Geographic even had an article last month showing the water surface temperature cycle being a noticably cooler now than it was last time we had these storms kick up (1940s). If global warming were a major factor, why isn't it warmer now? Why did it cool so much in the 1970s and 80s?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:17PM (#13605811)
    I have to point out that while the science is not necessarily clear on global warming, this doesn't merit the 'we'll just wait until we're sure' approach.

    Note how institutions (like, oh, say the office of the president) tend to protect themselves despite attacks not being 100% certain. Note how secret service agents protect the president, even though not all law enforcement officials worldwide agree that it's completely certain that at 12:31 on november the 30th a bullet will enter the presidents head at a 30 degree downward angle fired by a middle aged assassin whose motivations have been understood fully.

    That's a very valid approach - overprotect where the downside of a realized small risk would be great. I just wish we were as smart when it comes to protecting the species. As it is, we can't even protect the inhabitants of one city with days of advance warning.
  • Re:Bad PR (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SlayerofGods ( 682938 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:24PM (#13605902)
    Reminds me of Hurricane Ivan.
    Which of course reminded every news caster in the country of apparently the only Ivan they've heard of; Ivan the terrible.
    Certainly made the storm seem more imposing calling it that all the time.
  • by djward ( 251728 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:27PM (#13605959)
    I should edit - we are around 300% of prior maximum for methane.
  • Re:What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kfg ( 145172 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:28PM (#13605964)
    why use personal names anyways.

    For exactly the same reason we give names to ip addresses.

  • by localroger ( 258128 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:35PM (#13606045) Homepage
    I must have missed the day the motto changed to "news for fascist whack jobs." Of course their mirror-image twins at aren't much more reliable, but they tend to be more polite. Neither site is a suitable source for science information.
  • Re:controversial? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dubl-u ( 51156 ) * <> on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:38PM (#13606066)
    According to this article [], they currently think the main effect of global warming will be stronger hurricanes, not more hurricanes.

    Of course, that's the current theory. If it turns out that we consistently get more, we'll end up with some new theories. Global warming is a big uncontrolled experiment, so it's hard to say. That's pretty sloppy science; I say we should have waited until we had two planets so we could try this side by side. And really, 20 or 30 would be better, so we could get a good statistical sample.
  • Record set in 1933 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DRue ( 152413 ) < minus punct> on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:39PM (#13606081) Homepage
    Were the 21 hurricanes in 1933 caused by global warming?
  • by Inebrius ( 715009 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:42PM (#13606109)
    I have to ask the same question...what is it with people that are so willing to accept global warming as a human created phenomenon? Where is the evidence?

    Prior to enacting laws and restrictions that cost our economy hundreds of billions of dollars (trillions over time), I'd like to know that not only is this not a natural cyclic phenomenon, but that 1) The proposed changes will actually make a difference; and 2) That global warming is BAD for us.

    I have never heard an argument about why raising the temperature a few degrees is actually bad, and I'm not talking about raising sea level 5 or 10 feet. Don't more plants grow if the climate is warmer?

    Also, why do pro environmental climatologists exclude data that does not fit their model, and overemphasize data that does? Ever heard of the hockey stick and the BS surrounding it? What about the medieval warm period? Notice how most of the historic temp graphs don't cover pre 1500 AD. Also, notice how the climatologists have flipped since the 70's, when we were headed for an ice age. Should we have burnt more fossil fuels then and turned on our heaters 24/7?

    I'm all for wait and gather more data, then decide the best course of action for the results we want to achieve. And my SUV gets 15mpg, but I rarely drive it because I DO pay more than most people, every time I fill up the tank.

    How much of you and your childs future (economically) are you willing to gamble on the scientists and big check writing politicians being wrong?

    "From your question, it appears that you have never studied science, but letting that go, I always have to wonder about what it is with people that seem so resistant to the idea of global warming. After all, what is it that you are objecting to? Not being able to drive your 9MPG SUV without having to pay more?

    Lemme ask you this: How much of your future and your children's future are you willing to gamble on all us scientists being wrong?"
  • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:48PM (#13606161)
    As a scientist, the problem I have isn't the idea, it's some of the research. Much is being claimed as fact, and these facts often contradict each other. Extrapolations are being taken as gospel among the policy community. There's a lot of dogma on all sides of the debate. It's gotten extremely political, to the point that even questioning the "established" conclusion makes one a pariah in the academic community. There is too much integration between policy and science here, and a lot of people are using policy goals and their beliefs to drive their research.

    To disclose, I'm a chemist/statistician, and I drive a prius. I'm in favor of hedging our policy on the side of safety - but purely as a scientist, claiming any sort of accuracy in terms of climate prediction seems ridiculous given the current models.

    You say "all us scientists" as if you have 100% consensus, and as if you're a climatologist. Are you?

  • Re:controversial? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phat_Tony ( 661117 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:53PM (#13606202)
    They certainly aren't going to be proving a connection anytime soon. There's no way they're going to set up a double-blind experiment where they vary the temperature of the ocean for long periods of time while holding all other factors constant, then carefully measure hurricane activity.

    They like to set up models, but their climate models can't prove a connection either, because they're all based on a lot of assumptions, abstractions, and potentially erroneous inputs. We're a long way off from weather models with any level of certainty. When they can give spot-on weather reports for a month out, then it'll be time to start paying attention to the models.

    All they have now are measurements, where they hope to see a correlation. But no matter what correlation they saw, even if it was the most beautiful curve you've ever seen, with a curve fit with an R value of 1.0, correlation does not imply cause and effect. But at least it wouldn't contradict their theory.

    What they actually have is a tiny sample, where nearly any conceivable data set would mean nothing. The problem is that there are so many factors. While their actual data set is really jumpy and shows no really strong trend, suppose it were different- suppose they got their "ideal" data set over the past 30 years. Suppose it showed that the number of hurricanes is trending up sharply and steadily. If they had seen this trend, which would most strongly support the hypothesis of global warming, it would equally strongly support all of the following hypothesis:
    1. We're in a natural cycle of hurricanes increasing, which global warming is making worse.
    2. We're in a natural cycle of hurricanes increasing, which global warming is having no effect on.
    3. We're in a natural cycle of hurricanes increasing, which global warming is partially alleviating.
    4. There is no natural trend, and global warming is causing a rise in hurricane activity.
    5. We are in a natural cycle of reduced hurricanes, and global warming is counteracting that entirely and actually increasing the number of hurricanes.
    6. There is no actual trend at all. The number of hurricanes every year is entirely random, with no natural tendency or influence from global warming, and our 30-year sample happens to look like it has some trends, because any series of random numbers will appear to have some trends over certain samples.

    Furthermore, with so many factors that affect weather, less than two dozen hurricanes per year, an apparently large natural variability, the probability there are many natural trends that could be working in conflict or in concert, using a mere 30-year sample is like trying to estimate global warming with a 30-day temperature sample. It would make all the difference in the world if you take your sample during spring or fall, and time you take it at all, it's extremely unlikely it would give you an accurate picture of what's going on at all. If they had 1,000 years of data, I might expect them to find something more convincing there.

  • Re:Trolling? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abb3w ( 696381 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:58PM (#13606245) Journal
    So we may hit a total that we hit in 1933. How is this evidence of a change or part of the global warming debate?

    Because of the question as to whether this is from a natural cycle, or whether from global warming effects causing increased baseline ocean temperatures, or simply a statistical fluke year. As a first pass, either of the first two sounds credible as a cause. (If you RTFA, the last sounds less so.)

    We know climate moves in cycles; we also know that hurricanes are formed by (and get their energy from) warm water. We don't have detailed records for a long enough time frame to readily determine if it's just a natural swing in the cycle. Ergo, we should be doing climate research, perhaps specifically focused on what affects hurricane formation.

    Perhaps it's Global Warming; perhaps it's a natural oscilation in the deep ocean currents; perhaps it's just a statistical outlier event. Depending on which, the responses might be different. If it's an outlier, we can just plan for a short term headache with the rebuilding. If it's caused by human-induced global warming, we should start taking measures to ameliorate it. If it's just an unstoppable natural cycle unrelated to human influence, we should start considering what extent build-up of coastal developments ought to be insurable/taxed/regulated/&c, and considering how to minimize the impact on our national transportation infrastructure.

    The fact that we are headed for a record year and don't know the cause suggests we should be doing more research into climate and oceanography, in order to determine the best reactions... preferably backed more by clearly stated measurements and mathematically calculated confidence intervals, rather than more by political pre-evaluation of what the implications might be for Senator Bedfellow's congressional district. Mother nature doesn't give a damn what we think the world ought to be like; she's going to hit us with the way it is.

  • by bareman ( 60518 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @02:06PM (#13606314) Homepage Journal
    Media agencies are running out of anthropomorphized behaviors for meteorological phenomenon.

    "Targets gulf coast"
    "Directs its wrath at..."

  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @02:10PM (#13606339)
    Yes, you are correct, "fact" is an imprecise term.

    As the creationists are fond of pointing out, evolution is only a theory. Similarly, global warming is only a theory. Both of these theories do have the support of the vast majority of legitimate scientists.

    This leaves room for FUD by political manipulators since too many people don't have any real understanding of science.

  • Re:Bad PR (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PaxTech ( 103481 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @02:13PM (#13606376) Homepage
    You clearly don't understand economics either, but I guess I'll take a small shot at enlightening you a little.

    Your comparison between rich people buying yachts and poor people buying food is a strawman. The tax cuts take money the government would have spent (i.e. wasted, since the choices the government makes have nothing to do with efficiency) and gives it back to the people it came from in the first place. Impoverished people have nothing to do with this. No one got a reduced welfare check because of the tax cuts.

    Rich people investing their money leads to unemployed people getting jobs, as the companies invested in use the money to expand their businesses and purchase goods and services. This is better than the government spending the money if you believe that the money will be spent more wisely by the person who earned it and worked for it rather than by some government functionary who decides based on who contributed the most to his re-election campaign.
  • by Stephen Samuel ( 106962 ) <samuel@bc g r e> on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @02:27PM (#13606561) Homepage Journal
    1933 was probably an odd spike Statistically, you expect that from time to time in any random pattern.

    2005, on the other hand is just the following a pattern of slow, continual growth. -- and it's also been the case that we've been recently pushing records for both numbers and severity. It's not just a spike we're looking at. It's a pattern of growth.

    Put it another way: 1933 was a freak year. 2005 isn't.

  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @02:31PM (#13606589)
    We have thousands of years of climatological data due to techniques like ice core sampling. The science behind global warming is not just based on what the local weatherman has been saying for the past 100 years.
  • Re:controversial? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by paul144hart ( 916217 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @02:37PM (#13606659)
    New work on teleconnections suggests that these cooling and warming trends are periodic in nature. El Nina etal is a 7 year oscillation. They have discovered others with periods of several decades. The interaction of these are potently a scientific reasoning. Real temperature trends will need to be coorelated over centuries, not decades. Of course, destroying the ozone layer could really play havoc as well.
  • Everyone but you. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @02:45PM (#13606734)
    What's with the outbreak of rational, non left-wing thought on Slashdot? Is everybody trying to be ironic?

    Why did you frame 'left' and 'irrational' together? Or do you conclude that any non 'right' argument is automatically irrational?

    If so, then you needn't worry - the irrationality here is alive and well, thanks to your efforts. Kudos! :)

    On topic, I don't think its irrational to ask the question: is climate change a factor in the hurricane season? The scientific consensus (i.e. peer-reviewed Science and Nature-type consensus) is that it is not a major factor, not the underlying cause. Hurricane seasons appear to be cyclical, historically.

    However that same consensus says that global climate change is absolutely, inarguably, happening. The causes of that are measurable and observable. Whether the Earth itself goes through its own cycles or not - and it likely does - we have definitely fucked with that cycle and now the outcome/effects are unclear.

    Am I being 'irrational'?

  • Re:Bad PR (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PaxTech ( 103481 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @02:45PM (#13606737) Homepage
    You can't cut taxes for the poor. They don't pay any income taxes in the first place, since by definition they don't have any money. The poor have nothing to do with this discussion, though you and others keep bringing them up for some reason.
  • Re:Bad PR (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guuge ( 719028 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @02:53PM (#13606858)
    Sigh. Here we go again.

    The tax cuts take money the government would have spent (i.e. wasted, since the choices the government makes have nothing to do with efficiency) and gives it back to the people it came from in the first place.

    Wrong. The money has already been spent ("wasted") by the government. Tax cuts are an additional expense, driving the nation even further into debt. The tax cuts have not decreased federal spending ("wasting") at all.

    This is better than the government spending the money if you believe that the money will be spent more wisely by the person who earned it and worked for it rather than by some government functionary who decides based on who contributed the most to his re-election campaign.

    You're forgetting that the government is already the one spending the money. A tax cut is just another free handout from the government to a targeted selection of people. Follow the money and see who benefits most, and then watch the cycle of publicly funded political contributions continue.
  • by SDF-7 ( 556604 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @02:58PM (#13606908)
    What pattern of slow, continual growth are you getting? Backup your assertions.

    As a counterpoint, I'd point you at: tm [], which granted dates to 2004 -- but certainly a "slow, continual growth" pattern where 2005 isn't a freak year would show up in that data.

    More importantly, [] has the raw data. I tend to agree with the JunkScience analysis of it, which implies that we're simply on the rising edge of the cycle coming out of a lull.
  • by SengirV ( 203400 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @03:01PM (#13606940)
    How could that be? W wasn't the president then. And we've all heard how the number of storms this year is ALL W's fault.

    I'm confused. Can some Liberal help me out with this?
  • Re:Bad PR (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @03:02PM (#13606948)
    Rich people investing their money leads to unemployed people getting jobs, as the companies invested in use the money to expand their businesses and purchase goods and services. This is better than the government spending the money if you believe that the money will be spent more wisely by the person who earned it and worked for it rather than by some government functionary who decides based on who contributed the most to his re-election campaign.

    Uh huh. Keep goin'.

    The rich people who invested the money did invest it in their businesses, and they did hire unemployed people. Those people went and bought goods and services as you said - in fact they are incredibly good at finding the cheapest goods and services. They demand them. Because everyone wants to keep as much of their money as they can, right? Which leads to increased competition. Rich people then say, we need to make more money to prove to our shareholders that we rock and are competitive. Companies look for ways to reduce costs via globalization. Workers are cheaper in other places than Country A, so this is good business. Prices of goods sold come down, poor people get laid off. Even poorer people in Country B get Sniny! New! Jobs! - which are paid pathetically (to stay competitve) and are forced to work in horrible conditions because Country B has no workers' protection laws. Manufacturing leaves Country A bit by bit. Country B finds niche providing manufactured goods to the first country. Country B isn't so poor anymore - they start buying up our now-increasing debt, so that the original country's now-laid-off-again poor people can continue to buy their cheap stuff. Country A now makes nothing but software and entertainment.

    Meanwhile, the now Richer people in Country A lobby some government functionary who decides based on who contributed the most to his re-election campaign that they can make things easier for them here, like say, eliminating the fair wage laws after a devastating hurricane.

    You cannot just take a little snapshot of economic transaction and declare it to be a Great Thing when Rich People Get Richer. It's such a fallacy that it is almost below contempt. Look at what is happening in N.O. right now - it is just like the petri-dish economic experiments that had the corporatist types all lathered up about Iraq. I don't know how many times it has to fail before people figure out that it does not help anyone except a tiny tiny minority in the long run. Either you have empathy or you don't.

  • by gomel ( 527311 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @03:03PM (#13606967) Homepage Journal
    We like to think we know everything. How can we say there is global warming when we have maybe 100 years on the subject. Same thing for Hurricanes.

    Global warming is 'controversial' only as long as one forgets three undeniable facts: melted water lakes in the middle of Greenland, glacier melting and permafrost melting. We have more than 100 years on documented data on the length of glaciers and they have been getting smaller at an accelarated pace.

    These phenomena can not be explained by anything else than a long term change in climatic conditions.
  • by Wiwi Jumbo ( 105640 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @03:08PM (#13607045) Homepage Journal
    Um... I don't think that was his/her point.

    I believe (I don't have the facts myself, just inferring from the previous comment.) the idea he's trying to get across is that over the "thousands of years of climatological data due to techniques like ice core sampling" there is a noticeable spike within those "300-odd years' worth of industry".

    But once again, I don't have the facts. (much too lazy :)
  • Re:Bad PR (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PaxTech ( 103481 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @03:09PM (#13607052) Homepage
    The rich guy earned the money, and he'll invest it in whatever brings him the best return, since he knows that if it's wasted it won't be easy to replace. The money tends to go to companies that are managed well, and are successful.

    The government didn't earn the money, and when it's spent there's more where that came from, so they don't care nearly as much. The person deciding what to spend it on decides based on politics, not whether the money will be put to good use. The money tends to go to companies who've given large campaign contributions and spent the most money on lobbyists.

    That's a simple utilitarian argument about why it's better, but there's also a moral argument to be made that the people who best know how to spend the money are the ones who the money belongs to, as in the people who earned it. Remember, a tax cut doesn't mean giving money to the rich, it means taking less money from the rich. There's a difference, if you're not a frothing at the mouth slashdot leftist.
  • by JoeDuncan ( 874519 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @03:17PM (#13607173)
    The link between the growing intensity of hurricanes and global warming is not controversial. The vast majority of the evidence currently supports this link, and the current scientific consensus is that there is a link.

    The only reason there appears to be a controversy is because of the media's misguided efforts to present a "balanced" story, leading them to quote any crackpot that believes the opposite of the current scientific consensus. Like that FreeRepublic author.

    Seriously, saying there's a controversy because some random internet author from a grassroots convervative organisation who has no scientific background claims there is one, is like saying that the moon is made of blue cheese because the hobo yelling at traffic says so. Never mind the actual objective science that says otherwise...
  • by Distinguished Hero ( 618385 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @03:44PM (#13607516) Homepage
    We are rapidly approaching that point where the atmospheric CO2 levels are 100% HIGHER than the prior maximums over this time period.
    Levels of methane, another potent greenhouse gas, are approaching 1000% higher than any previous peak on record.

    Oh, well in that case, it's a good thing the Bush administration has a plan to significantly reduce the amount of methane being released into the atmosphere [].

    What's that you say? You haven't heard about this on the BBC, CBC, NPR, CNN or even FOX News? How interesting.
  • by rampant poodle ( 258173 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @03:48PM (#13607568) Homepage
    The objective science... []
  • by BJZQ8 ( 644168 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @03:53PM (#13607645) Homepage Journal
    Assuming that Global Warming is undisputed fact, what do you propose doing about it? The entire world is built on a foundation of burning things to power other things, you can't change that overnight. 40-mpg cars and wind turbines? It will never power the world of 20-30 years from now. The global GDP has been advancing at a 3-5 percent rate for quite some time. That means that in 20 years we will have probably more than doubled our energy consumption. It's nice to think that ocean waves and hydrogen fuel cells will change the world; but remove burning things, and releasing CO2, and you throw the world into economic chaos. Economic depressions and hyperinflation are the types of things that start global wars; not the sorts of things that help the environment. Although I suppose a world conflict brought on by an energy shortage will solve the energy usage problem anyway...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @03:59PM (#13607744)
    I'm a biochemist myself (not the OP), but I have to say - if you are a chemist, then both of our opinions on climatology are basically at layperson level (slightly better perhaps, because we understand the process of science in general).

    I'd have to say that if the overwhelming majority of climatologists and those in related fields are able to agree both on the occurrence of global warming as fact, and the involvement of human activities in exacerbating global warming (with the level of effect still debated), then perhaps it is you who don't have a proper handle on the field?

    I know it is quite possible for scientists to move between quite disparate fields, but to offer your opinion as a "scientist" both you and the original poster should be making sure you are completely up-to-date on the relevant research.

    It can be annoying when certain community groups jump the gun and make stronger claims than are supported by the science involved, but I see no evidence that the field of climatology is guilty of your assertions - I suggest that perhaps you haven't availed yourself fully of the total research available.

    The phrase which raises a warning with me is your statement that "claiming any sort of accuracy in terms of climate prediction seems ridiculous given the current models". I've seen similar statements before - from creationists and Intelligent Design followers regarding evolution. That is a statement of rhetoric, rather than good scientific debate.

    I don't have the background to judge the "current models" but many here do. In future, if you want to claim you have done the homework and found some science wanting, then you should state what your specific concerns are. To do otherwise is not only pointless, but actively harmful to other laypeople's views, since you are claiming your view under the guise of professional scientist.
  • by Profane MuthaFucka ( 574406 ) <> on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @04:28PM (#13608068) Homepage Journal
    Oh come on, Junk Science sucks and can't be relied on for the truth. If someone lies to you 90% of the time, and tells the truth 10% of the time, you can't trust them. It just so happens that the probable truth matches their agenda, this time.
  • by Klaruz ( 734 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @06:47PM (#13609333)
  • by SETIGuy ( 33768 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @08:17PM (#13609964) Homepage
    Note the this is "Hurricanes that hit the U.S." rather than number and severity of Atlantic hurricanes. There a rather significant difference between the two.
  • by BJZQ8 ( 644168 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @08:42AM (#13612579) Homepage Journal
    So we would need a government Office of Assessing Vehicle Need. OAVN: Sir, I see here that you have 2 children and a wife. A Chevrolet Aveo will do fine for you, here is your vehicle voucher. Sir: But I take my kids and their friends to soc... OAVN: The regulations are quite clear on the matter. You do not *need* to have anything larger than an Aveo. Thank you, come again. SECURITY!

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard